Vistamar Brisa Carmenère 2015

The nexus between price and quality is the unstated tension in the wine-selling business. The prize is the discovery of a ten-dollar bottle that looks, smells, tastes and finishes like one that sells for more; possibly even a lot more.

Variables in this equation are impossible to nail down, namely personal preference and expectation. If I buy a bottle of Californian Central Coast cabernet, the chances of it being worth more are small to insignificant. That’s mostly because of the enormous number of people looking. The odds of beating the odds aren’t great.

Casting one’s gaze in another direction might be an answer. Looking at different grape types, or regions or both could be the adventure we’re looking for, and in that spirit I bought a bottle of this, the Brisa carmenere 2015 version. Wine Folly says this:

Carménère (“car-men-nair”) is a medium-bodied red wine that originated in Bordeaux, France and now grows almost only in Chile. The wine is treasured for its supple red-and-black berry flavors (in a similar style to Merlot) and herbaceous notes of green peppercorn. Originally, Carménère was thought to be Merlot when it was first transplanted into Chile. This case of mistaken identity is perhaps what saved Carménère from extinction when Phylloxera devastated the vineyards of Bordeaux in the late 1800’s.

Yep, that sounds about right. This one had a dark garnet color, tasted (as noted) of green peppers, red fruits and green peppercorns, but all in harmony; no bum notes here.

As she opened up, I noticed more complex flavors of fresh rhubarb and dark fruit skins. There was a certain hotness that reflected the high-ish alcohol, but in any case, apart from the pleasant flavor, the distinguishing characteristic here was the lack of tannins. The finish was quick and precise, and just, well, terrific.

I reckon this would be a great choice for someone who likes red wine but not the associated tannins. Frankly, I’d choose this over any Columbia Valley merlot for reasons of interest and drinkability. Oh, and cost.

Medium to high fruit, medium body, tannins, acidity and high alcohol.